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I have read a few other books from Guy Delisle and absolutely love his narrative style and art, but Jerusalem is his best work to date.
It succeeds in putting a human face on one of the most difficult areas of history while still being objective. Delisle brings out the history of the region, and some marvellous panels show the beauty of the region, and sometimes also the utter idiocy of it.
Sublime captivating, changes the perspective one has of the promised land. Funny and somber at the same time. One feels for the people who experience injustice from the ones who have power...seems history repeats and repeats and repeats ...which is deeply described in this book...after all a picture is a thousand words
Guy Delisle travels to Jerusalem with his partner and their two kids for a year. His partner is an administrator for "Doctors Without Borders" and Delisle spends the year working on his comics, looking after the kids, and exploring/trying to understand the city of Jerusalem and its peoples.
If you've read Delisle's work before you'll know he goes to hard-to-reach places and reports on his time there (North Korea, China, Burma) and that the resulting travelogues are always entertaining and enlightening - just like this latest book.
The book isn't a polemic nor is it meant to explain the region or the history, it's really just a memoir/travelogue of his time there. So there is equal parts of his time describing his everyday duties looking after the kids and going to parties, making friends, as much as there is encountering and observing violence from bombings in Gaza, to the numerous checkpoints and outright chaos of this area.
The reader gets to see how bizarre Jerusalem is. The city is divided into Christian quarters, Jewish quarters, and Muslim quarters, where literally one side of the street a woman can wear what she likes and on the other she must be covered head to foot. The constant military presence and day to day reminders of violence - everyone carries a gun, not just soldiers. The shrillness of the piercing calls to prayer echo throughout the city whether you are religious or not. The ridiculously high number of checkpoints everywhere, the constant traffic jams...
As an atheist myself, it's hard to believe that this troubled region is because of one group believing one thing over another leading to literally millennia of conflict. As such, it's incredibly shocking how people will be so petty over everything. One contested house becomes demolished, another goes up - years pass, the house is demolished/taken over, another goes up. And on and on. And the bizarre behaviour of Orthodox Jews who are just flat out racist and violent toward anybody who isn't an Orthodox Jew themselves, is just terrifying.
Delisle doesn't take sides on whether he believes one side is right over another, he's an atheist himself and does his best to present all sides of the argument. Through his fresh eyes the reader sees the area as if they were visiting it themselves. It's a fascinating look at a troubled region, told memorably and filled with excellent artwork throughout all by Delisle, who has once again written/drawn a wonderful book on a strange part of our world with characteristic good humour and intelligence.
This has a feeling of truthfulness, showing both the good and the bad sides of life in certain parts of Jerusalem. Guy Delisle always seems like a bit of a masochist, I thought this ever since reading his book on North Korea, but I'm glad he goes into somewhat difficult situations and reports back in such a readable graphic and above all memorable way.
Delise has made his own genere. He draws out his daylilife in exotic places. This time he's a homewife in Jerusalem. His wife is having an interesting job in Gaza while he's looking for playgrounds, cafés and descent kindergartens in the city. Delise want's to get to Gaza too, but he never gets there. The story is slow, but he manages to give the reader interesting information about the history and the present situaton in Israel.